How to Grow Holly Perennial Garden

How to Grow Holly

Planting and caring for Irises
Posted By: Michigan Froggy
Date: 2004/7/8 9:29 a.m.

I have to plant my holly bushes that Michael brought up that they dug out of my garden at the other house. This is the information I have learned over the years about growing holly.

Holly grows everywhere in the United States and grows in shade, partial sun, and even full sun . They need a rich, moist, well drained acidic soil to grow really well. Tolerates drought conditions, but you may have a yellowing and dropping of leaves, but the plant will bounce back with new growth. If your soil doesn't have good drainage, it may cause rot which will kill your plant. They grow into large trees, 30 feet or taller and can be pruned back into shrubs if you wish. They make a lovely hedge if planted closer together and pruned regularly. The best time to prune is late fall or winter, but they can be pruned in summer if necessary. It is not wise to prune them in the spring. Holly is slow growing, but is an evergreen that adds beauty and interest to your landscape all year long.

Their red berries attract birds and other wildlife that love eating the berries in the winter. You must have a male and female plant in order for cross pollination to take place. The female plant is the one that produces the berries and a male plant should be planted no farther away than 30 feet for berry production. Berry production will be best in full sun. You can propogate holly by cuttings or grafting. I have rooted branches by bending them down to the soil, removing leaves where the branch touches the soil. Cover with more soil and place a heavy rock on top to keep it in place and within a few months the branch will have taken root and you can cut it from the main plant and plant where ever you wish. This is best done in the early spring.

If you see leaves or branches that are developing spots or holes, it could be caused by disease. The best thing to do is prune away the bad leaves or branches and destroy them. Do not add infected leaves or branches to your compost. The only pests I know of that might bother holly, is the holly leave miner larvae, which will leave yellow or brown trails in the leaves from them mining out the middle of the leaf. These have little effect on the health of a holly, but the leaves can be removed if desired. Insecticides will not get rid of these since it can't penetrate the leaves due to the thick waxy surface of the leaves.

Also several types of scale might infest the holly which are 1/16 to 1/4 inch with a brown shell type scale that covers it's body. These will suck the sap from the plant causing stunted growth and sometimes kill the plant. It is best to scrape the scales off the plant as good as you can and then wipe the plant down with an alcohol soaked cotton ball. Regularly spraying with a mild dishwashing detergent, 1 TBS per quart of water (Not Antibacterial) helps also.

And then there are spider mites which cause a speckling or discoloration of the foilage. A good rule of thumb to avoid damage from spider mites it to spray the underside of the leaves with the hose occasionally, this is where the mites will be, feeding on the leaves. They occur mostly in hot dry conditions. You can also use a solution of 1 TBS of mild dishwashing detergent per quart of water, (Not Antibacterial) to spray the underside of leaves. Only use an insecticide as a last resort. Safer's miticide insecticidal soap, is the safest to use for mites, with a low toxicity. I have purchased this through Garden's Alive in the past for my houseplants. (I have never used it outdoors in my garden.) If you have to use this it is best to repeat every 5 to 7 days until the pest problem is under control.

I stress not using antibacterial soap to spray plants, as this will kill the good bacteria that you want in your soil. And once again, only use insecticides as a last resort. Most will also kill the good insects you want in your garden and could cause more problems than the pests you are trying to get rid of. A good thing to remember is that anything you put on your plants or soil, eventually makes it's way into your ground water and affects your entire environment.
© Margie Coughran 2004